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How Do You Decide When To Get Your Next Computer?

sloan profile image Sloan ・1 min read

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I've had my Windows 10 x64 laptop for about 7 years now. It's definitely slowed down within the last year. I don't know if I'm rushing into looking for another laptop too soon or not. So I want to know of other's experiences on this. I'm not as knowledgeable on hardware as I'd like to be, so thinking of searching for a new computer stresses me out. Plus, I'm kinda interested in using Linux but worried I'll regret that decision in case there's a bigger learning curve than I think there will be.

Also, I have a lot of PC games that I don't think will work on Linux...

Has someone ever tried using a new OS and realized it wasn't working for you?

In terms of improving my current laptop, is there anything I can do to speed things up? I looked up some advice on Computer Hope, but I don't want to try anything too risky.

Thanks!

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Sloan

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You can try various Linux distros for yourself without having to commit if you boot with a live usb key inserted. The gaming situation has gotten a lot better very rapidly over the last year with Valve contributing to and integrating the Wine compatibility layer into Steam. It'll be harder to test for yourself, but you could at least look up what you're interested in at ProtonDB to see what others' experiences are like.

As for hardware, there's always bigger, better, faster out there; the question is whether it's worth your money and the time it'll take you to get set up.

 

When the new shiny MacBook comes out.

Just kidding, I try to get the most out of my machines, my current Macbook has lasted 4 years so far and is running strong.

As suggested by @Ivo maybe see how you could extend the life of your current machine; putting an SSD in gives a huge improvement, I installed one in my computer last year and it boosted its speed substantially. If you have 2 sticks of 2gb ram, see if your machine can support 4x4. Also, a clean install of windows 10 always gives a nice boost by getting rid of things that are running but aren't potentially needed.

However, 7 years does sound like a long time. Maybe it is time to buy ;)

 

Before switching, you might be able to get a boost by cleaning the fans!

Are your fans loud even when idle? Is your cpu temperature high (say 70-90 C)? If so, search for a disassembly video for your laptop, and undust the fans properly.

Repasting with thermal paste might also give an edge.. but it is more involving, and cleaning the fans will give you a good boost for start. For me it dropped 40 degrees of idle temperature, bringing back the laptop from unusable to great.

 

Things to try to speed up your current laptop: if it doesn't have an SSD, get one and reinstall your OS on there, check how much RAM is free when doing typical work and upgrade if it's less than a GB. Thats assuming it's possible which is likely in your relatively old machine. If you don't know how to do that or aren't sure what parts are compatible Google it and if you're still not comfortable go to a local shop.
If your laptop has all these things a OS reinstall could help if that hadn't happened in a while (like a few years).

That said, if you laptop already has an SSD and the reinstall doesn't help enough it's fine getting a new machine after 7 years. That's quite old I'd say.
When looking for a new one you can search for buyer guides but always make sure it has at least 4 physical cores, 16GB RAM and 500gb storage. The rest like the display size, battery life etc is up what you want and are willing to pay for. I recommend trying out different sizes (and the keyboard + trackpad!) at a local shop and you can also ask somebody there for help.

 

This. Thanks Ivo, now I don't need to say it. :)

 

The biggest factors for me in deciding are what I use the computer for, how long I have had it, and to what extent I find it slowing me down. This balance point will be quite different for someone doing primarily professional video production, software development, or social media site browsing. Also worth mentioning is the disk: For a computer that old, it is unlikely to have a solid-state drive (SSD) in it, so operations are therefore input/output (I/O) bound by the speed of disk accesses. Alas, SSDs are more expensive, at least in the typical computer capacities, than the corresponding hard disk drive, as well as coming in multiple "flavors", if you will, based on their connection method. This implies maximizing "bang for your buck" - the most value for money - is always a good thing to shoot for. Good luck!

 

Rule of thumb would be to replace your computer when it stops doing what you want it to do in a fast enough time.

I've made my Lenovo Thinkpad X230 feel a lot snappier by replacing the HDD (which are usually only 5400rpm) with an SSD. Having at least 8GB of RAM also helps with making it feel faster.

Decent new laptops have a tendency to run a bit on the pricier side. I found a lot better value in some older ones from the used market, but you have to keep an eye for deals and it depends heavily on your location.

Before going with any more specific advice, it would be really helpful if you could answer the following questions:

  • What exactly is the model and configuration of your current laptop?
  • What country do you live in, so that we can get an idea of the prices and the market level?
  • If you want to replace your machine, what would your budget be?
  • What sort of work do you use your laptop for? What games do you play on it?
 

I don't is a mix of the universe deciding to break something unfixable or web devs collectively deciding that 200MB is reasonable for a website :)
all I can do is to have available enough money to keep up with them.

 

Extend your machine until you can't (SSD, ram, etc.) and save cash for the day the thing breaks down. Then you go to the computer shop and get something where you can use the extensions you used before. With a good backup system, you're back working in no time.

 

I hate having to re-customize my systems. So, in general, I only look to replace my personal system(s) when they become no longer fit-for-purpose. Given that I do most of my work via remote connections, "fit-for-purpose" now mostly means, "can any hardware failures still be repaired" (or, more importantly, "cost-effectively repaired") and "are security-patches still being made for the OS.

Worth noting that some slowdowns can be resolved by (physically) cleaning your system. Hardware's thermal-protection systems will slow a system down if you've let your box's innards get so dusty – or otherwise gacked-up – that it can't cool itself properly.

 

I at the same place my macbook really solid but would like to build a pc or get a solid laptop for game development. I have an even older laptop that I have Ubuntu 18 on it. Works good for web development and testing different projects.

 

7-8 years is about the limit for a machine that's usable.

3-4 for one that you depend on.

As they get older the risk of something going wrong goes up.

 

you dont.
you dont buy new computer, you upgrade the parts :)

 

my memory slot is full and not fast enough to run atomic/mini linux distro

 

I’m looking for it’s thinkpad or not 😄